Civilians in Libya face hardships and aid agencies try to help

children at transit camp on the Tunisian border with Libya

Civilians in conflict torn-Libya continue to face hardships, especially in the western part of the country where there is heavy fighting.

Humanitarian agencies are doing all they can to provide assistance to the people in need, particularly in Misrata.  Derrick Mbatha reports.

Duration: 2’34″

Fighting between forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and opposition fighters seeking to overthrow him is continuing to take a toll on civilians in Libya. Misrata, the western Libyan city controlled by opposition forces, has borne the brunt of the fighting in recent days as pro-Qadhafi forces pound it with heavy weapons.  Marixie Mercado of the United Nations Children’s Fund says the fighting is taking a toll on children.

CUT 1: Marixie Mercado

“It’s now fifty days into the fighting in Misrata and the full picture of the toll on children was emerging and it is far worse than we had feared and certain to get worse unless there is a ceasefire. We have at least 20 verified child deaths and many more injuries due to shrapnel from mortars and tanks and bullet wounds. The youngest victim was nine months old and most of those who have been killed in the past two weeks were younger than 10.”

The Misrata hospital is overwhelmed, according to Tarik Jasarevic of the World Health Organization.

CUT 2: Tarik Jasarevic

“The Misrata hospital has a 120-beds and occupancy rate is more than 100% right now. Six operating theatres and 7 intensive care beds are fully occupied. On average there are 30 multiple-injuries cases that need and require surgery per day.”

On the nutrition front, the World Food Programme (WFP) has opened a humanitarian corridor into the western part of Libya. WFP spokesperson, Emilia Casella, says a convoy of eight trucks has delivered food enough to feed 50,000 people for thirty days.

CUT 3: Emilia Casella

“It will be distributed by the Libyan Red Crescent in a number of communities mainly to women and children. This is following an agreement that we were able to sign with the Libyan Red Crescent in that part of the country.”

As fighting continues in the North African country, more Libyan refugees are arriving in Tunisia from the Western Mountains region, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.  UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says that other civilians, including Iraqi refugees, have been evacuated from Misrata to Benghazi.

CUT 4: Andrej Mahecic

“A ship which arrived from Misrata to Benghazi on Saturday brought among its hundreds of passengers a group of 22 Iraqi families – refugees and asylum seekers who had described to our team a terrifying situation in the city with rockets and shells regularly hitting residential areas.”

The United Nations is stressing the need for an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

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